At the 2019 Amenity Forum conference and exhibition, the new Amenity Standard was introduced, prior to its full formal launch in 2020. This Standard is akin to the Red Tractor in food and agriculture. Those operating to the Standard and displaying its logo will demonstrate their adherence to recognised assured standards in all tasks undertaken.
There is much greater public and political interest related to weed, pest and disease management, especially linked to chemical use. The reasons why chemicals need to be used, as part of a fully integrated approach, in seeking to provide safe, healthy amenity spaces and sports surfaces, is not always clear to the public and stakeholders.
The wider public users of amenity spaces need to have clear assurances that all those involved in creating and maintaining safe, healthy sports grounds and other amenity spaces, operate at the highest professional standards; and whether using chemical or non-chemical methods, such operations are undertaken by competent, trained personnel following well designed and managed plans.
The introduction of the Standard has already generated widespread support including from the national governments of the UK. It will be formally launched in Scotland by a senior government minister at a conference in early February and a similar event is planned for Wales with on-going discussions in England and Northern Ireland on how best to promote and support.
Speaking about the Standard, Professor John Moverley, Chairman of the Amenity Forum, said ‘’We feel this to be exactly the right time to introduce this Standard which we hope will be sought and demanded from all who operate in amenity management. It will give assurance that work undertaken is of the highest professional standards by those committed to best practice in every aspect of operations. Those who work in amenity management undertake important and essential operations seeking to create safe and healthy amenity and sports spaces fit for purpose. Introduction of the Standard is we believe a major step and demonstrates once again the high levels of professionalism to be found in our sector’’
“This initiative from The Amenity Forum has been set up by the industry for the responsible use of chemicals. Endorsed by regulatory trade bodies and completely voluntary, we are delighted to be one of the first foundation partners to join. PCA members can also use the new Amenity Standard logo to demonstrate their adherence to recognised assured standards in the use of chemicals.” Steve Hodgson, CEO, PCA.
The Amenity Standard is a bespoke quality management standard that has been developed, as a partnership, by all sides of the amenity sector. Those operating to the Standard will be committed to an integrated approach to amenity management and to the highest professional standards. They will be members of an approved assurance scheme recognised by the Standard. The cost of operating the Standard is covered by fees from providers of these recognised assurance schemes and there will be no extra cost to individual organisations.
The Amenity Standard is designed to:
- Provide an industry benchmark
- Provide a basis for continuous improvement
- Focus on quality as an objective
- Provide assurances about the quality of the approvedorganisation and maintenance of the amenity space
- Ensure that quality assurance scheme operatorsrecognised under this Standard use auditors with technical knowledge and experience of the sector concerned
- Promote confidence inorganisations operating and providing resources in the amenity sector by provision of a robust and transparent standard
The Amenity Standard will be operated by the Amenity Forum who will maintain, review and regularly update matters as required. They will audit each scheme operator to quality assure that they are operating to agreed standards. In turn, the scheme operators audit their members and approved organisations to assure that they are meeting the requirements of the Amenity Standard.
At its launch, three Assurance Schemes are to be recognised by the Standard – the Property Care Association Scheme for Invasive Weed Management and two schemes offered by BASIS Registration, Lawn Assured and Amenity Assured. The aim is for more schemes to be recognised as the Standard develops so that all sectors of amenity are covered.
The need to move quickly on this is recognised by the sector. Clearly embedding the Amenity Standard will need time; it is not a quick fix. Its introduction will need to be accompanied by a communication strategy both externally and internally. However, if this step is not taken, the great progress made to date in increasing the recognition of the professionalism within the amenity sector may be threatened. It will not always be easy, but it is the right step, at the right time.
Hopefully the logo will soon appear on amenity areas across the UK and be upheld with pride by operators.